MINUTES OF VALA DIRECTORS’ MEETING
MARCH 8, 2007
The meeting was called to order by President Mark Paulsen at 9:15 a.m. with 26 in attendance as follows:
Peter Rimsa Proctor Rutland
John Vickery Burlington Chittenden
Galen E. Mudgett, Jr. Sharon Windsor
Pauline Moore Manchester Bennington
John Fike Reading Windsor
Cheryl Tudhope Orwell Addison
Al Jerard Brattleboro Windham
Caroline Lockyer Montpelier Washington
Robert L. Sanborn Chelsea Orange
Randy Viens Essex Chittenden
Chris Miele NEMRC Everywhere
Bill Johnson PVR
Phyllis Newton Vernon Windham
Lyle K Morrison Grafton Windham
Camilla Roberts Rockingham Windham
Pat Plaisted Topsham Orange
Sheldon Smith Topsham Orange
Peter Whitney St. Johnsbury Caledonia
Yvonne Ruda-Welch Unifund
Steve Jeffrey VLCT
Suzanne Monte PVR
Terry Knight PVR
Louise Ferris-Burt Bethel Windsor
Pat French Randolph Orange
Mark Paulsen Colchester Chittenden
Carol Hammond Vernon Windham
Peter Rimsa made a motion to accept the minutes of the January 3, 2007 meeting.
The motion was seconded and passed.
The Treasurer’s report is as follows:
Previous Balance 2/28/07 $ 3,919.96
Dues Received $ 90.00
Donuts $ 17.00
NRAAO Dues 30.00
VTC Land Sch Wkshp 259.25
Balance 2/28/2007 $ 3,703.71
There are currently 153 paid members.
A request was made for reimbursement to the Town of Bethel to help defray cost of the Mass Appraisal Course taken by Louise Ferris-Burt. A motion was made by Phyllis Newton to approve the reimbursement to the Town of Bethel to help defray the cost of the course. The motion was seconded and discussion followed. The motion passed with 10 voting yes and 7 voting no.
A recommendation was made that the Education Committee establish criteria for education scholarships.
Steve Jeffrey – VLCT
Local Government Day was lightly attended because of snow storm. Ways and Means Committee is looking at rolling reappraisals and Steve handed out a draft of a bill which directs PV&R to… “study the feasibility of adopting a statewide system of rolling reappraisals on a three or five year basis….” (see attached draft) Peter Rimsa suggested that along with mandatory lister and appraiser training, there should be mandatory training for BCA members as well. Steve said he will bring that recommendation back to the Committee.
The Committee will also be looking at Current Use and will probably employ an outside consulting firm to review the procedures used in the program.
Other issues under consideration are expanding income sensitivity to include a wider group of people; reducing the residential tax rate to about $.25, and adding a surcharge of 1 ½% on the state income tax which would be used to fund education and eliminate the prebate. This year, the prebate will be sent directly to the town treasurers, but could change next year. The filing date for the prebate may be changed to October 15, but that is not yet certain.
There will probably not be any significant changes this year in education funding. The elimination of special education from education funding has been talked about. The Brigham decision says that the State shall provide and fund equal education but doesn’t define education, so there are no boundaries of what the State is responsible for providing. Special Education costs are uncontrollable; towns are penalized for spending too much but most costs are mandated. Steve gave statistics that In Vermont, approximately 77% of special education students were mainstreamed with the closest state being 47% and the national average was 29%. If other states are in compliance with Federal law at such a much lower percentage, perhaps Vermont could look at other means of providing special education at a lower cost. No one from the Education Department is going to the Legislature to say that Special Education costs are killing school budgets. There are also Federal mandates that have to be met, which are not properly funded, and thereby fall to the towns to raise the needed monies. Original Federal funding of special education was supposed to be around 40+% when in actuality it is funded at only about 12-15%. In addition, after 5 years, No Child Left Behind is currently $90 billion dollars in arrears between what was authorized and what was actually dedicated to the program.
So the problem is compounded by many different factors.
March 16th is the crossover date in the Legislature, so after that date there will be a better sense of what issues will be targeted.
A study on rolling reappraisals is definite.
Current Use will be a huge study; there are more concerns this year than ever. Natural Resources want to expand the program while others want to rein it in. The program is considered by many as a tax shelter and is advertised as such to out of state buyers.
There needs to be more conversation on subsidized rentals—there needs to be more clarification of issues.
There are exemption issues that need to be addressed—grandfathered exemptions, ice skating rinks, etc.
Income and cost sheets are posted on the PVR website. It was suggested that the information should be consolidated and made part of the Listers’ Handbook. Because there are new Listers almost every year, education regarding subsidized housing should be ongoing with special educational sessions for reappraisal towns.
There is a big push to apply the CLA directly to an appraised value rather than to the tax rate.
Rep. Obuchowski is sponsoring a bill dealing with the certification/decertification of appraisal firms.
Veterans Exemptions can be increased to $40,000 if voted by the towns; there was discussion of additional special assessments for each.
NEMRC: Chris Miele presented NEMRC’s latest update for Current Use calculations. This was based on the spreadsheet developed by Mark Paulsen and modified by NEMRC. Chris reminded everyone that this is still a work in progress.
Tambrey Vutech will be stepping down as Director for Windsor County and John Fike will take her place.
Land Records: Caroline Lockyer reported that she needs to step down from this commission because of the timing of the meetings. Someone will need to be appointed by the Governor to fill this position. At present the commission is in disarray and not functional. This is actually the second commission, and is made up of Town Clerks, Brokers, Lawyers, Surveyors and Paralegals. Caroline represented VALA. National Standards will be forthcoming but Vermont may not want to follow the National Standards.
John Vickery volunteered to replace Caroline in this position.
Some towns are already working on electronic filing of records and it was recommended that each town start thinking and planning on how they want to accomplish this.
Caroline remarked that while the Town Clerks will be the ones to write the standards, there should be input and cooperation from each department in the respective towns.
Education: TOEC’s—Open Forum for Listers, concern that there wasn’t much else for Listers.
Exemptions: Caroline said that something will be done this year. Exempting ice rinks in Montpelier and Waterbury will end. These were started by non profits for recreation and they are fighting to keep the rinks tax exempt. Bill Johnson said that the exemption issue extends from canceling all exemptions except federal ones to adding 20 more new ones.
There was discussion about the sale prices reported on the PTTR’s of subsidized housing; things that are included or adjustments made. Assessments are at fair market value but state law demands that covenants and restrictions must be considered.
The Vermont Housing Conservation Group with PVR is working on a manual with all the information and necessary criteria for subsidized housing projects. This would give guidance as what is the responsibility of the Listers and the Owners of a project.
Utilities: Tom Vickery has been reviewing the information provided by the various utilities. It was concluded that net book valuation is not appropriate—the chief problem being allocation of utility property among towns.
Caroline made a motion that VALA not support NBV but to continue to look at the system we have and make improvements. The motion was seconded and discussion followed. Galen suggested that the issue be tabled until next meeting because more information was needed before a vote could be taken. Bill Johnson noted that replacement cost was not a good idea, that it could have the potential for litigation. The State will continue to build a Net Book Value model and Bill did not feel that allocation was a problem. Peter Rimsa suggested that original cost minus straight line depreciation down to 30% is the appropriate method. Values would be held until improvements/changes were made. This would apply to transmission and distribution facilities and could include generation facilities as well.
After further discussion, the vote was taken and the motion was defeated.
Mark Paulsen moved that VALA does not support a change in the valuation method for utilities but will continue to study the issue. The motion was seconded and passed.
Mark commented that he will be testifying before Ways and Means on the issues of Current Use and Rolling Reappraisals.
BYLAWS: No report
MICROSOLVE/CAMA: Pauline reported that Marshall & Swift said Listers had no right to use the luxury house program—no written consent was ever given to use that part of the CAMA program. The cost tables will stay the same until reappraisal. When new values are provided, luxury homes will be adjusted from the quality grade 6 (excellent).
There is talk of NEMRC buying Microsolve and merging the two entities. Towns would still have the right to use the CAMA provider of their choice.
LISTER OF THE YEAR: One nomination has been received. The Committee is looking for more names of candidates. .Last year District Advisors and Town Clerks were asked for nominations.
Peter Rimsa made a motion to adjourn. The motion was seconded and passed.
Sec. 3. ROLLING REAPPRAISAL STUDY
(dr req 07—draft 1.0)
2/27/2007 – EJB
1 The director of Property Valuation and Review Division of the Department
2 of Taxes shall study the feasibility of adopting a statewide system of rolling
3 reappraisals on a three-or-five-year basis; including analysis and
4 recommendations with regard to:
5 (a) with mandatory lister and appraiser training,
6 (b) uniform appraisal methods,
7 (c) estimated costs of creating such a system,
8 (d) timeline for implementation of the system and transition provisions
9 which would be needed,
10 (e) whether an equalization study would still be required with such a
11 system, and if so, how significant the common level of appraisal would be in
12 determining education property tax liabilities,
13 (f) any other issues which the director may identify as significant to his
15 The director shall report his findings and recommendations to the House
16 committee on Ways and Means and the Senate committee on Finance by
17 December 1, 2007.